Losing Customer Loyalty Is Often from Little Things Adding Up

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Mar 15
Graphic of Loyalty

Customer loyalty can be damaged by an accumulation of little irritants

If you think customers don’t care about how you treat them and your employees, think again. Yesterday, as I went on my walk, I came to the point where I normally stop for iced tea. For the maybe the sixth time in 15 years, I went to Burger King. I stopped going to Burger King because they used the concentrated iced tea instead of fresh brewed. Several months ago, I heard that the one near us now uses fresh brewed. I hadn’t tried them until today. And I changed because my favorite stop for iced tea, and sometimes breakfast, finally lost my loyalty.

As I have bought $6 to $10 per week, and I’ve been a loyal customer for a minimum of three years, that’s $312 to $520 per year or a lifetime value of at least $1,500.

Destroying a customer’s loyalty is often due to a lot of little things

So what finally broke my feeling of customer loyalty? Actually, there have been a lot of things that all added up over time. For instance, this restaurant didn’t heat the facility on cold days. As most of the time when I stopped, I used the drive through, it didn’t affect me often. However, I would watch the employees, who became friends because of how well they treated me, shiver and complain about how cold it was in there. I too hated it on the occasions I did go inside, like for breakfast, and had to bundle up in order to stand the humid cold.

I watched the franchisee blow off one manager who’d worked her heart out for them a year or so ago. I cringed at this cavalier treatment of someone who was good with her employees and who demonstrably cared about her customers.

Then recently I learned that the second manager I’d come to really like after a series of short term ones, was demoted. She got fed up shortly after that because of how the new manager treated her and left. Morale with the other employees has dropped too. It’s hard to get a willing smile out of them. Interestingly, the reason for the demotion is that the franchise requires the manager to have gone through training so the owner hired a man who has the certification.

As a small business consultant, I’m a big believer in training and certifications. So on the surface, you would expect me to agree with this policy. My problem isn’t the corporate requirement. It’s with the way the owner implemented the policy.

Take care of your bottom line best with a heart-centered view

Here was a manager who during the months when the economy had hit her store the hardest, worked seven days a week and sometimes two shifts because she was shorthanded due to having to lay off employees so as to keep the restaurant open. She also showed time and again that she cared about her customers. In other words, she was loyal, dedicated, committed. The owner, in my opinion, should have sent her to the training program. Instead he took – what appears to me to be — the cheap way out and hired someone who already has the certification.

I long ago quit saying I’d never be back somewhere because they angered me. So, yes, when it’s convenient, I’ll probably still stop there on occasion. However, now I’ll look elsewhere more often and stop here a lot less often and refer people to other locations and other choices because it’s less enjoyable to stop there. I have a bad taste in my mouth over how this franchisee treats his employees – and treats his customers.

Like soil accumulating water from many rains, my loyalty was finally undermined

So, interestingly losing my customer loyalty wasn’t quick. It came about over time through an accumulation of little decisions, little acts of being cheap and not caring about customers or employees. Now, finally, one major injustice has confirmed what I’ve long known: this isn’t a heart-centered business owner. There are so many other choices available in Covina, California that I can buy my drinks and food elsewhere without a major inconvenience. It’s a matter of breaking the habit of stopping at the former favorite.

Please comment on how you feel about whether customer loyalty is lost more often through big events or a bunch of little things adding up.

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About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. https://amzn.to/2BaP2AH I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.